I will be forever grateful to Al Capp and his comic strip “Li’l Abner.” Al Capp invented what was probably the first women’s rights movement when he started Sadie Hawkins Day in his comic strip in 1937.
Let me offer a brief introduction for those of you too young to know about Li’l Abner, Daisy Mae, and Sadie Hawkins Day. Daisy Mae was sweet on Li’l Abner, but Li’l Abner didn’t want to get married. However, Daisy Mae had a chance to make Li’l Abner marry her every year on Sadie Hawkins Day. This was the day of the great race, named in honor of a woman named Sadie. Sadie was supposedly so ugly, that her daddy had to create the race just so she could catch someone and marry him. On Sadie Hawkins Day roles are reversed, and women are put in control.
Every single woman in Dogpatch was given the power to marry the man of her choice on this day. She just had to catch him and drag him to Marryn’ Sam.
This fictional holiday became popular across the country. Universities, colleges, and high schools were offering Sadie Hawkins day races, followed by a dance.
I had just moved into this small South Texas town during the summer before my Senior Year in high school. I was shy, and didn’t know anyone at the school. I spent most of my time in Study Hall because I had more credits than I needed. Since I didn’t know anyone, I spent my time reading novels or studying for my classes.
There was one cute red-headed girl in one of my study halls that mistook my time spent with my nose in books for intelligence. She thought I was studious and probably nice.
To my amazement, she asked me if I would run in the Sadie Hawkins Day race and let her chase me.
This was my first experience with Sadie Hawkins. I knew about the fictional race because I read the funnies. But until this time, I didn’t know that schools were actually re-enacting the race.
This was also my first time to be asked out by a girl! I didn’t think about my answer. I just said “Yes!”
That Friday, I showed up in old clothes. I think everyone was supposed to look like they lived in Dogpatch. I’m sure whatever I wore wasn’t very convincing.
We all met at the football field, the boys lined up a couple of yards ahead of the girls. The announcer gave us the “ready, set, go!” and fired the starter pistol.
I took off toward the other end of the field. The whole time debating whether I was supposed to really try to escape, or just kind of act like I didn’t want to get caught.
That was silly! Of course I wanted to be caught!
The chase was short. I think I was a bit of a disappointment because I didn’t put up a fight or act very hard to get. As Red and I walked back to start, I watched the others. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the guys were putting up such a fight! I think some of them had to be tackled to the ground. As I watched closer, I could tell the girls were getting really aggressive. The guys didn’t have a chance.
After the race we all stood in a crowd around a platform that might have been the bed of somebody’s pickup. Marryn’ Sam stood above the crowd and married all of us. Just right then and there! It was a mass wedding.
Red didn’t tell me until years later that it wasn’t for real.
I’m still married to her!